I apologize for the personal nature of this post but the thoughts below are something that I never want to forget.
Since I have been posting (mostly) weekly on a blog that I have for school, I keep seeing my personal blog and regretting that I have not kept up with it. To think that my last post was more than a year and a half ago! And, wow, has my life changed in that year and a half. I’m not going to go into what has happened as the two people that read (or used to read) this blog already know. For now I want to say what I have learned.
Lesson 1: In the words of David Boreanaz as Angel “You never know your strength until you’re tested.”
I remember at Christmas time, while visiting my parents in SLC, standing in my mom’s kitchen crying. I broke down, “I don’t know how to do this…” She replied, “You already are.”
At the time that didn’t really help. Things were hard. I was feeling so alone and overwhelmed. Everyone commented me on how strong I was and how well I was doing. They didn’t see the pain. They didn’t see the confusion. They didn’t see anything, and I didn’t let them. I definitely didn’t feel like I had it as together as they thought I did, but I knew that I didn’t have a choice but to move forward. If I didn’t, who would pick up my slack?
Standing six months in the future, I look back on that night with gratitude. My mom saw something that I couldn’t; I was doing it. I stand where I am now, knowing that each day I am doing what I need to do, all that I can do, to make sure that my family ends up in a good place. I’m not perfect and with regards to certain aspects of my life I can’t even guarantee that I am making tons of progress. I do know, though, that I can do it. I know that the three of us can make it through this, will make it through this.
Doing what I have done, in the way that I have done it, over the course of the last year and a half is something that I never thought that I could do. And here I am, having done it.
Lesson 2: 1 Ne 3:7 “…the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
This scripture, more than any other, has been a guiding light for me in the last year and a half.
It has always just been another previously memorized scripture sitting in the back of my brain, pondering its own existence. As the trials before me began to seem insurmountable, this scripture brought me peace. I knew that I could do what needed to be done, if only because I had the Lord’s help. I knew that through my faith in him, I could through this for the better.
I remember a day while I was visiting Soren in the hospital pretty early on in his illness. We had both been feeling weary, grief-stricken, and afraid. I had been praying, unceasingly, for reprieve and peace. I had gotten my answer as I visited with him that day. I knew that things would be okay. I didn’t know what “okay” meant, but that didn’t matter. I had a promise that it would be okay. That was enough.
Lesson 3: Our lives are only what we make of them.
The decision to live my life each day is my own. No one else can or will do it for me. That’s the beauty of agency. None of us know what is before us or what our lives are now preparing us for. We only know that we have today to make the best of what our lives are and have been. It is our choice to sit and lament our cards in life or to get up and do something with what we have.
A major feeling for me has been that I have no one to help me through this. I don’t mean that I don’t have friends or family that help in the ways that they are able. I mean that there is only me to make sure that my kids get a bath and are in bed on time. There is only me to make sure that I find a job. There is only me to pay my rent and buy food. I am the only one that can take care of my family.
Each of us is on the earth to fill a role that only we can. Each of us will face trials to keep us from completing that purpose. We are not interchangeable. There is no one that can do what we do with the same influence that we do.
President Joseph F. Smith said, “After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all mankind, is the truest greatness.”
Only we have the power to change our lives. Only we have the power to make it what it can be, what it should be. Only we have the power to make it great.
I’m sure that there are more things that I have learned. Mostly I am grateful to have become, through time, the person that I am. I have seen the Lord’s hand in my life, shaping me to be the person that I need to become. I have seen Him placing people and trials in my life just where I need them. I have seen Him answer prayers and give blessings beyond compare.
Obviously, my life is far from where I thought it would be. “Widow and single mother by 24 years old” is definitely not the path that I thought I would be traveling as I left high school. Something more along the lines of “poor college student eating ramen and dreaming of owning 20 cats” is probably closer to the truth.
My life hurts. My life is hard. Sometimes, my life is lonely. I miss our life together and I regret many of the things that I have said and done in our marriage. I regret that I will have to wait so many years to make them up to him. But I am not alone and I am better for what I have been given.